Tuesday, June 7 was the beginning of this years Europe trip; work and family obligations delaying our usual mid-May departure. Air New Zealand whisked us from Los Angeles International Airport, leaving at about 4:30 pm and depositing us (early!) about 10:30 am at London's Heathrow Airport. From there is was a 1 hour Underground ride to the St. Pancras station. The Eurostar to Paris didn't leave until about 4 (we wanted to leave plenty of time for the connection) so we settled in for a leisurely lunch.
Two and a half hours after leaving London we were at the Gare du Nord, one of Paris' four big train station. The room we had booked for two nights was just a five minute walk from the station; we didn't even have time to get lost! After our host, Peet, showed us our room, we stashed our bags and hit the streets. We wandered along the Canal St. Martin, found some pizza to go, a bottle of red wine, headed back to our room for a quick meal and tried to defeat Mr. Jet Lag.
Thursday we visited the Musee d'Orsay for a big Manet exhibition and had dinner at a typical Paris bistro. For those who will be visiting Paris' 10th arrondissement, Philou was excellent! Friday morning it was on to Gare de L'Est, about 10 minutes walk from "Our Room in Paris." An hour and a half later we were in Nancy just a short walk from the car rental location. After getting thoroughly lost trying to get out of the city, we finally managed to find the road to Lagarde. We arrived to find Odysseus in desperate need of a bath but otherwise in good shape. After unpacking the bags we settled in for the next three months.
Saturday morning was cleanup time and the afternoon meant a trip to the supermarket; the shelved needed to be restocked. Sunday and Monday were boat maintenance days; a little painting, some engine chores. We had reserved the car until Friday but we really didn't think we would need it that long. The weather was not cooperating; showers just about every day. We decided to take a drive over to Alsace on Tuesday, drop off the car on Wednesday and head off down the canal on Thursday.
Alsace was it's usual beautiful self, although there was quite a bit of rain. We revisited Saverne, one of our favorite places, and drove down part of the "Route du Vin," Alsace's wine road. We had a hearty lunch in Westhoffen and headed back over the Vosges Mountains to Lagarde.
We also bought cherries. Yum. Sweet. If you need to buy them (they're falling off the trees everywhere), they cost about euro 2.50 a kilo; that's about a two bucks a pound for us American types.
Wednesday was the "Return the Car" adventure. There is no public transport to Lagarde. The nearest train station, about 10 k away across the rolling fields, gets maybe 4 visits a day. Our plan was to load the bikes into the rental car, chain them to the railing at the train stop (hardly a station) in Igney-Avricourt, drive to Nancy, drop off the car, catch the train to Igney and then ride the bikes back to Lagarde. We only had to leave enough time to get lost trying to find the car rental place in Nancy! And we weren't looking forward to that bike ride. Rolling hills means some downhills followed by killer uphills.
Wonder of wonders, it all worked exactly as planned. Cathy Jo's excellent navigation skills allowed us to drive right to the car rental place with only one, easily fixed, wrong turn. We were about an hour early for the train so there was no panic. The bikes were where we left them when we arrived in Igney and the bike ride turned out to be not nearly as bad as we thought. Thursday morning we waited for it to stop raining and headed off down the Canal de l' Marne au Rhine toward Nancy.